Assamese Media Vs Women
A still from the video; Courtesy: Youtube
NEW DELHI: A news clip from Assam’s Pratidin Times has gender activists up in arms. The video is a news story about young Assamese women’s clothes, that it claims is bringing a bad name to the local culture.
The journalist goes so far as to compare the women who wear shorts with monkeys, "Monkeys have also started wearing clothes and know how to wash clothes, but girls in Guwahati now prefer wearing shorts for comfort. Maybe for them fashion means exposing their bodies, resulting in attire which is shorter than needed,”he writes.
The video has filmed the women, clearly without their consent, with the visuals playing out to “Kannta laga” as the background song to further humiliate the the women shown in the video.
“Privacy is being violated. Nowadays, we are more scared of the media than the police because you never know when and where media persons will catch us and shame us, in the name of news,” said Meenakshi Bujabaruah, a researcher and gender rights activist was quoted as saying in the Times of India.
On Sunday a peaceful march against the channel was organized by civil society members, which was disrupted when the police arrested a few protesters accusing them of “violating the curfew” even though no curfew was imposed. Meanwhile, an apology, with some qualifications, was issued by the Editor-in-Chief Nitumoni Saikia on their FB page, for “unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments”. He later told reporters that, “Will you go to a wedding to "naamghar" (traditional Assamese prayer hall) wearing a pair of shorts? No. Some things will never be a part of or be welcomed into Assamese society."
Likewise, a petition by another gender rights activist, Bipasha Saikia was sent to the Broadcasting Council of India regarding the unethical use of media by some media professionals and their channels in Guwahati. The petition, which can be found on Change.org, reads, “Since the past eight to ten years we have been noticing a trend in the Assamese media where self proclaimed journalists go out and sexually objectify women. The women of Guwahati, the capital city of Assam and the gateway to the whole North Eastern India are in danger. These self proclaimed journalists like Hemen Rajbonghsi, supported by their Editors in chief, and their broadcast channels in recent times who upload news pieces like "Scantily clad girls, a summertime nuisance" do not even spare little girls of taking shots that are unimaginably indecent.”
“Journalism is about change. Not about feeding the lust of men. We have all forgotten about the girl who was publicly beaten up and unclothed in front of all media. It is time we stand up to such atrocities” it says further.
The old city of Guwahati, known as Pragjyotishpura to locals, was in the news in 2012 when a woman was publicly beaten by a mob of men for visiting a pub and for wearing “revealing” clothes.